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Fish now prosper where cotton was king

UGANDA - Fish farming is now providing a lifeline to poverty-stricken communities in Uganda. Where cotton was once the cash crop, fish have taken over and the industry is now providing a sustainable income for local people in Pallisa.

Together, we can overcome poverty: The vice president, Prof Gilbert Bukenya (R), participates in planting during one of his trips to promote sustainable agriculture in rural communities.

Cotton used to provide prosperity but when corruption and globalisation kicked in, the crop lost its value and the people suffered.

Since then the people of Pallisa have been looking for better alternatives for income generation.

"Fortunately, the parish is naturally blessed with seven spring wells that can ably make fish farming sustainable and transform our people from poverty," explains Mpyangu Eryasa, the Local council chairman of Kasajja Parish, Kakoro sub-county in Pallisa.

However, there was some difficulty containing the water and achieving the level of hygiene required for farming fish.

With a population of 2,500 people, one borehole and seven spring wells ther was plenty of scope, but the community needed ideas and technical input to enable them make their water better for fish production. "It was a case of a lot of water everywhere, but not a drop to drink," says Mpyangu.

Nicholas Makyande, a farmer up stream used run off water from the springs to sink ponds for fish farming. Makyande is the chairperson of the Kalecheru Rural Development Initiatives, a local organisation based in Kasone Village, Kasajja Parish also in Pallisa district, The organisation has 82 members, 79 percent of whom are youths and widows and also cares for 35 orphans whose parents succumbed to HIV/Aids.

With the help of US Peace Corps volunteers Eric and Ranji JohnBull, the organisation accessed funds from the US President's Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR). It helped them to improve the water management system for 17 fish ponds and also helped to pay for the ponds to be restocked.

While this project is still in its infancy, it has a very promising future for the people of Pallisa. Its will become a sustainable business, providing food and employment and is also a good example of how fish farming can support communities that would otherwise remain in poverty.

Fish farming is becoming an inportant industry in developing nations. Projects like this one in Uganda are helping to secure a better future and generating incomes that are lifting many communities across the world out of poverty.